Thanksgiving, 2015

       The turkey was sacrificial. We dug
       our fingers through dark meat

       to retrieve the stuffing but avoided
       the controversial topics, the fat on our bones.

       What bubbled was the broth, salt
       on stone, and Mom drank sparkling

       juice cocktails, pretended it was wine–
       laughter compressed from the mash

       in our mouths, the soft chew and gravy.
       How simple it would be to spill grease

       from the pan over the tablecloth, so temporary–
       ten years ago was the last we all celebrated,

       the last our talking bounced from mouths,
       caught softly in our ears. After the funeral

       we peeled grapefruit. Its rotting meat
       blessed a white plate for days after the feast,

       when we gorged enough of ourselves
       to ask what it is about the lumps in apple pie

       we savor, when the tartness
       burrows new holes in our teeth–

       maybe it’s the cutting, dulled knife on pie,
       and the serving– one piece on porcelain,

       a fragment, a memory
       of what it means to be whole.


       As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
       the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–

       my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
       Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.

       The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
       Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,

       a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
       each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.

       For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
       long enough and someone will notice. No one

       likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
       her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear

       of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
       My shapelessness. My tendency to drift

       so far away that I never fully return.

James Croal Jackson‘s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Lines+Stars, Whale Road Review, and other publications. He is the winner of the 2016 William Redding Memorial Poetry Prize sponsored by The Poetry Forum. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio. Web